Christmas can be tough on our bank accounts and it is often at this time of year that we feel under financial pressure. Whilst it is inevitably going to be slightly more expensive this time of year, many things can be done to help you budget. Here are seven ways to cut the cost of Christmas.
Set your budget early
Before you get overwhelmed with Christmas shopping, sit down and budget how much you can actually afford to spend. Although you can, of course, use credit cards, ideally, avoid depending on them as this can lead to you spending way more than you initially intended and means you start the next year potentially in a lot of debt. Don’t just consider the budget for Christmas presents; you need to consider all the other costs associated with Christmas such as travel expenses, gift wrapping, decorations, and festive food to name just a few. Separate your budget into categories and work out the maximum you can spend.
The further in advance you sit down and budget, the more you are in control of your finances and have confidence that you know how much you can spend and on what. This also means you have longer to search for good deals.
Homemade gifts are always a great option for Christmas. They show your loved ones that you have put lots of thought into the gift and they are often one of a kind and can even be personalised. Whilst not all homemade gifts are necessarily cheaper as the materials can be costly, some gifts can help save you some pennies. For example, if you decide to make candles for a lot of your friends and family, the cost overall will probably be cheaper than buying them all from a shop, and they are fun to make.
Homemade gifts can also help you spread the cost of Christmas. If you are struggling to find something to buy for a loved one, why not consider a voucher instead? For example, a voucher to go for a nice meal in the new year, or a book of vouchers that they can redeem throughout the year for help in the garden, washing their car, babysitting for them, etc. Some of these gifts will only cost you time and even those that involve money will mean you don’t have to pay until the voucher is redeemed - a great way to spread the cost without jeopardising the quality of the present.
Start a Secret Santa
Secret Santas have been going for decades and there's a reason for this. Not only can they be really fun, but they are also a great way to save money. Instead of buying all your colleagues, friends, or even family presents, ask them if they would like to do a Secret Santa instead. This can save a considerable amount of money. Once people have agreed, ensure you set a budget so that no one misses out. To add an additional challenge to the task you can even set a theme such as can only be something homemade or only something they have bought from a charity shop.
Split the cost of Christmas dinner
It is surprising how much the cost of a Christmas dinner can be, especially if you have a larger family. People often have three courses and a selection of alcohol and snacks which can all quickly add up. To help combat this, discuss with your guests in advance if they wouldn’t mind contributing. They don’t necessarily have to give you money, they could perhaps each bring an item or dish with them. Just make sure you coordinate so they don’t all end up bringing the same food.
Not only are ecards more eco friendly, but you can also send them really quickly without having to spend hours writing up addresses. You also save the money you would usually spend on posting them all.
Shop smarter in supermarkets
There are plenty of tips and tricks that can help you shop savvy in supermarkets. Try going later on in the day as you will be more likely to find a bargain as this is when the food is marked down. Buy things that you know you can freeze in advance and place them in the freezer until you need them. There are so many dishes that you can even prepare in advance and keep frozen until Christmas such as a handmade soup for starters or the vegetable dishes. Not only can this save you money, but it will also save you time on the day as you will have less work to do.
Also, try not to be too driven by brands. A lot of the items are of the same level of quality but many people are only swayed by the name. If you focus more on the product itself rather than just its brand, you can save a significant amount of money on your Christmas shop.
Sell unwanted items ahead of Christmas
Make space in your home before Christmas by selling anything you no longer need. Autumn is the best time to do this as it will leave you with more storage in your home but the money raised can go towards your Christmas budget. Win-win.
Not only can all of these help you save money, but they can also help reduce the waste you create during the festive period. The key is to plan in advance as this helps you control your finances tightly, gives you time to shop for the best deals, and means you can avoid the last-minute panic buys and stress that usually happens in December.